April 5, 2003

Learning how to be pleasantly surprised

Me overwhelmed.

By the generosity of the many who have donated to my laptop fund. More to come on the whos and the thank yous as Marek does his tremendous volunteer job of tracking the laptop drive. My family and I are completely blown away by the kindness of the people who live in here/out here.

I've already catastrophized ahead, thinking of all the ways I could let everyone down: what if I get a new laptop and I can't write anymore, or what if I lose my mind and am committed and can't keep blogging, or what if I get a serious illness and don't have the energy to keep on, or what if we can't pull this two-independent-business-people household off and have to get an all consuming (read non-telecommuting) day job, and what if... what if... many worse things I'd be embarrassed to tell you.

I have fought my whole life to never be surprised. It is my biggest weapon of self defense--that hyper-anticipation of the pessimistic variety--just to protect myself from the ultimate surprise of loss. The one that knocks my knees out from under me every time.

My friend plans a surprise visit--or worse yet throw me a surprise birthday party--and rather than be delighted, I'm mostly in shock. I have no sense of balance, no frame of reference, as to how to handle delightful surprises.

It is obvious where this comes from. This is one I figured out a long time ago.

Recognition is another double-edge sword. It leaves me feeling somehow undeserving, and I'm just beginning to sort through that. How have I managed to be a behind-the-scenes star my entire life, and what might be different if I had dared--if I had been able to--step out front. Hit the spotlight.

Blogging has given me a taste of what that might be like. People know a lot about me AND they still like my work. Some even like me. I don't stammer here or look for the right words; they just come. And if I don't get it right, I don't melt down.

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. Sharing bits of neuroticism and the trauma that nurtured them, here and there as I go, as I figure it out.

I think that wounded people come here, to the blogspace, to work these things out in an environment that is safer than most. What makes it safer than most is that other wounded people are here reading what you say. Because if they weren't hurting, they'd be bored by now. For me at least, I am compelled to hang with you, to give in to that overwhelming urge that keeps us connecting here, keeps us reading and writing eachother healthy.

David Weinberger wrote that we are writing ourselves into existance. I don't think he thought of childhood trauma and the loss of self when he wrote that. But it has profound meaning if you view blogging through the lens of "self."

Unemployment Office and more

This was my first trip ever to the unemployment office. I expected it to be much like the tag office (motor vehicles, for those who don't reside in Georgia), but I was happily surprised. Efficient. Friendly. Understanding. Not unclean. Lots of computers. Lots of useless handouts and flyers. No real jobs per-se. But plenty of forms to fill out.

Still, depressing overall. Something empty in the eyes of those of us once-valuable employees filling out forms, sitting, waiting for our turn in "big room A," where we got more paperwork and instructions for using the web site.

My biggest question was, if you work one week and make a lot of money, but then you don't work for two weeks, can you collect for those two weeks.

The answer was yes.

Well, that's good news.

The maximum here in Georgia is $295 a week. Imagine that. The lady told me, "Doesn't matter if you made $26,000 a year or $1 million a year--the most you get is $295 a week." I said, "That's tragic." She said, "Yes it is, isn't it."

I don't have any qualms about collecting for the weeks when no work comes in. At our house, $295 will buy groceries and gas and pay for Pre-K. Nothing to sneeze at. I worked for it for the last 20 years. I'll take it.

When I left unemployment, I got 2 for 1 Chick-fil-A sandwiches for dinner. The woman at the drive through asked me if I wanted to donate a dollar to Big Brothers Big Sisters. I said, "No, I'm sorry. I just lost my job."

Don't ask me why. I should have given the dollar. If I could afford to stop for Chick-fil-a, even 2 for 1, I could have offered up the dollar. I think I'll go back and give it to her next week. She was sweet, college age, and told me, "I'm so sorry to hear that about your job--we're hiring managers here you know." I asked her how the benefits were. She said great--you get them after 60 days. "I get to go to school free," she told me.

I told her I thought that was just "awesome" and that I really appreciated how friendly and courteous she was. I told her I might be back to take her up on the manager job. You never know.

That's where Jenna wants me to work, you know. When I told her I wasn't going to be working at the tall building in midtown anymore, she said, "OH! Maybe you can work at Chick-fil-a like Jackeline's mom!"

Kids.

Kids?

Why am I so tired?

OH, I took Jenna to the dentist today and her two bottom teeth are starting to loosen up. She is so proud. She wants to lose those teeth so badly. I thought she'd burst when the dentist told her they were actually loose. She sat bolt upright in the chair, looked at me, and shivered. She does that when she gets really excited.

I do it too lately. Not for the same reasons.

As I write this, Jenna just woke up with growing pains. She's standing on the steps crying.

And it's 2:30 a.m.

No sleep for the weary.

Papa's tending to her, saying, "It's okay, boodle," and carrying her upstairs.

I'm gonna go look for the motrin.

night all.

Marek Takes Up My Cause

I didn't ask for it, but I'm also not going to turn it away. Not now. No way. Spent time in the unemployment office today. I gotta make this work, at least give it a frigging try.

Marek has started a campaign to get me back on my beloved Dell, or maybe cheat on Dell and get a Mac. Time will tell.

This lovely Compaq on which I currently blog, and its donor, are the most wonderful addition to my arsenel against corporate-layoffedness I could hope for. But, in real terms, this Compaq-to-the-rescue has 64 megs of RAM and a 3 gig hard drive, and I've already about filled that up with old files.

Don't get me wrong. I'm having fun here. It's working. But I'm craving for more power, fewer hangs, and a bit more storage. In short, I'm already taxing this here notebook in a big way. Man, am I selfish or what? Okay. I'll own that. But I have to hurry or I'll have to get another office gig. Can't look in that direction yet. Just can't. Not yet.

So bring it on if you so choose. No offense taken if you can't or choose not. But many many thank yous for those who do.

Will keep you posted.

April 4, 2003

george nails this one

tragically funny.

NeoCon: valid or not?



Shelley said something that surprised me in a series of engaging comments which I happened upon after reading this post by Jonathon Delacour refuting a reader's allegations that Jonathon is, among other things, racist. The response by Jonathon is terrific. The comments that follow also worth the read. But I was surprised that Shelley proposed within those comments that we get rid of the term "NeoCon" or neo-conservative in discussing the current state of things.

I'm not sure we can--that is what they call themselves.

In my mind, neo-conservatve it is an important distinguishing term relating to exactly what is going on in this administration, and uniquely this administration. They named themselves, those who brought George Bush to power. They were neo-cons before he took office and had already groomed him as their man. Or, well, trusted his father enough to know his son could do the job.

This news comes to you from a rather apolitical blogger. Take it with a grain of truth, I mean salt. Or sand. Desert sand.

The difference between conservativism and neo-conservatism is the difference between folks who want what they would call "fiscal responsibility" and hands off, government compared to the folks who's goal it is to take christianity (I use the little "C" because it is their version of Christianity, which is intertwined conveniently with liberty) to "every human being in the world" as they rescue the Holy Land. To serve as a catalyst to fulfill Bible prophesy. (And maybe to get something besides a get-out-of-purgatory-free card along the way).

Neo-conservatives, who are currently in charge of this country, are Crusaders, a name bestowed on them by the devilish members of the axis of evil. I would imagine, in some ways, NeoCons are proud of the term Crusaders. Just wait until the pictures of Iraqis being baptized in the open desert by American troops start floating back. They will.

And if Team NeoCon gets a little oil, some government contracts, and manages to free a few countries from horrific regimes in the mean time, all the better.



over and out...

blogging from unemployment

Wow, who knew they had super fast computers with nice Dell trinitron monitors at the unemployment office? It's not too bad here. Never been inside one in my life. Figured I'd better check it out, just in case. I have no idea --- ooops, they called my name. BYE!

April 3, 2003

Jeneane: The Lost Episodes

What I remember of the day after is nothing.

When you have a gap in memory related to a traumatic event in your life, it isn't so much a gap or a chasm; it's not really the "lack of" because, well, you wouldn't know something was missing if it were just missing. It's something else. It's rather a mountain, seen through dense fog, that has the power to trip you up if you even think about scaling it.

The last memory I have of my father's death is late in the afternoon, or maybe it was early the next day, when I asked if I could go out and play.

My mother thought it best for me to stay inside. I remember asking why, and I remember her saying that we were in mourning. Although at that time, I think I heard it as morning. And I remember thinking morning was an odd thing to say, probably because, either, it was afternoon, or it was indeed morning, which, regardless of the earliness or lateness of the hour, would puzzle a five year old who just wanted to go outside.

[[Oh. synapses connected. This happens when I blog. It's why I think blogging is the best new therapy tool going. I wrote above that all I wanted to do was go outside, but I wasn't allowed to. I think of my telecommuting self saying somewhere on this blog that if Web Van still ran, I'd never have a reason to leave the house again, and I think of the times I've stayed inside so long I've wondered if it borders on agoraphobia...]]

Where was I?

Yes, the memory loss/lapse/gap/mountain...

That is where it ends for me.

I don't remember a word that passed between my older brother and I, or my older sister and I, about my father's death that day, that week, that month, that year, or for many years following.

I don't remember a word that passed between my mother and I about my father's death after that morning/mourning for many years following--until the day of her marriage to my step father in fact, when I told her I missed my daddy. I was 12. She told me she did too. And she held me.

I don't remember anything in between, except a couple of out-of-time, out-of-sequence mind videos: me riding the bus pretending to be sad because it got me attention. Me pretending to be sad in front of my favorite teacher so she'd dote on me. It worked. Me wondering why I wasn't sad, just accepting it, understanding at my young age that some things just are.

What were the first words my brother and sister said to me? Where was I? Why didn't I know what my father died from until I was in my late teens? My aunt penny was the person I saw openly grieve. The only one. Maybe that's why we're so close. Maybe she grieved for me.

I know the trip to Illinois is in there somewhere, where my innocence took another, even bigger, hit. I know they tried to protect me from the sadness of the funeral, of the aftermath.

I remember moving before first grade--selling the farm to the Forresters so they could grow mushrooms in the big red barn.

But I don't remember what I felt. I don't remember IF I felt. I wish now that I had been able to feel it then. I'm not sure you can--or that you even need to--at five. It's just not the same when you're that young. Your default is powerlessness. You have no say, no control at that age. When your father dies, you put the catastrophe into the "oh no. okay" basket, where everything that isn't yours to touch goes, and you go outside and play. Or at least you want to.

Because you can't if you're in mourning or if it's morning.

You can't look back and compare then and now 35 years later. That is the frustrating part. And you can't construct the lapses in memory with any accuracy unless you dare to ask for corroboration, validation, from those older than you at the time.

I have never, not to this day, asked my sister or my brother about my father's funeral. I have never asked them if they went. I never asked what they were told, how much they knew before it happened, if they knew he was dying and what that felt like, or what they said to me afterward. Did they come home from school that day? I don't remember.

Where did we all go?

I'm not sure we can say anything now.

I wish I could reconstruct those memories so that I never had to ask them. It's hard for them to talk about. Obviously. It was always hard for us to talk about him. Even now, the word Dad, in reference to my father, doesn't slip off the tongue when I'm talking to my brother or my sister. "That was before Dhhaad died, right?" I stumble. I pause because I want to say, "your dad." I mean, they had him a long time. My sister was 14 when he died. My brother 12. He was their father.

Me? He was still a piece of me. Or I him. I was that young.

I was still being born.

I look at my daughter, now the age I was then.

There are days when it all comes rushing back in surreal mini video clips--all except those pieces that ended up on the cutting room floor. Probably the pieces I need to see the most.

the family dollar

Writing from that place of exhaustion tonight. Jenna is upstairs in her room singing away... we're trying a new thing, you see. Go up to your room and play at 8:30; when we say lights out, turn the lights out and go to sleep. Sounds good. Not quite working. It's almost 10 and she's singing and clapping to made-up songs. Putting puzzles together, finding pink bunny, "I found her! I found her! I thought she was lost forever!" and generally getting more worked up as the minutes tick by.

And I love her so.

I stopped at the Family Dollar today--there's a new one over by the Ingles. Silly name, the family dollar. These days it takes on new meaning. But this particular store is better than Big Lots. Bigger than Dollar General. Like a dollar store on steroids.

No air on, hitting 80 already, we the women of the family dollar looked at one another, passing silent sentences that ask, "This damn hot already!?"

The lady at the cash register says, "I think we're in for a hot summer."

The woman in front of me has long black hair, touching her waist, a black pants suit tells me she's come from work. Pulling snacks and toilet paper and make-up from her cart, my eye comes to rest on her son, who is hanging on and off the cart, repeating phrases over and over in a manner that tells me something is not quite right. A handsome boy, probably 10 or 11, over and over he repeats sentences that start and end with "Mama."

The cadence goes like this, "Mama? xxxxxxxx, Mama."

Often the same sentence, the same cadence. Over and over.

She doesn't acknowledge him, just keeps lifting family dollar specials onto the counter. I wonder how many times she has heard these words before.

I think of Jenna. I think of my life. I think of hers. I think of how fast things can change. I start to feel every instance of every trauma of the myriad of people suffering wash up on the rocky beach that is my heart.

I push her saran wrap a little to the left, put my paper towels in its place.

April 2, 2003

that round of gratuitous profanity was brought to you by...

stress!

Okay, glad I got that last post off my chest. It has been weighted down the last two weeks with the business of business, unwinding and disconnecting from my former employer, synapse by synapse. Along the way some rage is freed. Look, see, that's what that last post was about. It comes in waves. Relief, anger, relief, anger. Hope, panic, hope, panic. Mania, depression, mania, depression. Profane, sacred, profane, sacred.

See? I knew you'd understand.

Now I leave you with with part of what I left them with today:

I leave you with some words, because thatís what I have and thatís what I do. Take them for what theyíre worth. Here goes:

Something big is happening in business right now, and it is as exciting as it is unsettling. Donít be worried. When top-down strategies and practices are challenged, itís a good thing, not a bad one. Itís a beginning, not an end.

Human beings are connecting in new ways via the Internet. Some of you may think the progress of commerce and innovation online died with the dot-coms. Not so.

We are creating and innovating globally via the Internet in ways that are just beginning to stagger MBAs and stump corporations. There are tremendous opportunities for businesses hereóbut not for business as usual. Youíll see what I mean within a year.

Hang on to your families and loved onesódonít sacrifice a momentís time with them.

Flip ďpassion and precision in communicationĒ around. Work as hard as you can to communicate authentically with markets on behalf of your clients, and with your clients and their customers too. Be genuine and human, donít be a business or a firm.

Precision is no longer measured by the standards weíve become accustomed to. Instead, try things that are off and iffy and not always likely to work. They will begin to work, surprise you, and delight your clients. You need your brain in high gear for this one, though. Passion, by the way, should be inherent.

Be honest and real with your customers and theirsóthere is no other option. Spin is dead. I kid you not.

Donít target, talk.

Donít segment, listen.

Conversation can solve anything.


maybe, huh?

"Get a Bigger Dick Today!"

I'm happy to report that my spam has followed me to my new laptop--what great news!

In other news, I am FREEEEEE from the confines of the corporate agenda. Or laid off. Depends on how you look at it.

Breathe, 2, 3, 4.

This is a quick post to say I lived through it--said goodbye to Della in the HR person's office. Sad. Forgot to bring the CD Drive (it's the swapable type). Promised to mail it.

The Schwans man came and filled our freezer with food on a post-dated check. Hoping funds arrive to cover it. Ah well, it's all good. Today we eat, for tomorrow we may...

Getting used to what my words look like on this Presario screen. Have to meld. Melding not complete yet. Bear with me.

Fingers like it though.

Off to read some blogs. Suppose I'll have some free time to do just that for the near future.

FUCK. SHIT. Motherfucking hot wind blowing down I-75 on the way home, AC cranked, what the hell, it's only April. Listening to neo-cons on talk radio just to remind myself. See the double-axle Ford pickup with the six foot pole off the trailer hitch and the 6' x 4' American Flag hanging down, licking my hood? Redneck motherfucker looked just like DICK Cheney behind the wheel. On the phone with RB, I say, you should see this flag--it's the Perkins flag on the back of a pickup. Only in the souuuuth.

Then a Chevy Suburban assaults me at the light. Tinted windows--you know those LONG windows on the suburban that run the whole length of the back? Making fine use of all this real estate, this patrioticidiot has etched the following in soap-or-something on both sides of the suburban and the tailgate: We are at war. If you don't support our troops then you go to HELL! [Hell is underlined for emphasis. Good thing. Otherwise I wouldn't have taken him seriously.]

I take a look at the guy and his wife. DAMN It's another Dick Cheney body double. Invasion of the body snatchers goes red white and blue.

I'm outta here ... later!


April 1, 2003

anyone in blog space who has ever emailed me...

Please do so again sometime soon--my inbox and contacts haven't made it over here. Most of you know, I'm ewriter at bellsouth.net. Look forward to hearing from you as I get used to my new digs.

still standin'

holy cow. I made it. I crawled through USB ports today, wound in and around two keyboards, C, D, E, F, and I think a G drive on not one but two machines, got most of my personal files safely offloaded, not all to this sweet Presario which Mr. Rage bestowed upon me, but on george's dinosaur most are safe. Some made it over here before I screwed up and paid Macafee $34 for their piece of shit virus program, which seems to have done some messy things to this hardly-used notebook. So tomorrow I'll figure it out.

Tonight, just now actually, I finished moving files and did the take down of the Dell. She's packed away in my backpack with her power cable. Cell phone's next, as soon as I can find it, together with my little packet o-paperwork for HR and a W9 to fax (from old job to new client) while I'm at "work" tomorrow. Guess I can't really call it work. Guess I'll call it TOAST!

Thought I'd better post lest you all thought I fell into the motherboard, failing to individuate became one with it, melted into the circuitry or something. Sounds good, actually.

This keyboard is really nice. It's got that rolling push-back feel to it. You kind of glide. No clickty-clack. I don't feel like I'm doing anything except talking with my hands, which I do anyway.

Tired. That's one thing. Luckily I bought myself a day to get this all sorted out. So tomorrow I take my last drive in. Not much to be nostalgic about considering I drove in maybe five times this year. Still. Five years worth of drives--add them all up and it's something that merrits a sigh.

I'll be glad to get it done, glad to get back here and post from the other side. So many things to learn, not the least of which is where unemployment's located.

Unemployment--such an icky word. They should call it pre-enjoyed employment, something. Un.

Did pretty well last week with new clients. I tagged teamed with George on some tech writing and handled the PR/Marcomm side of another client. Cool.

So much to do, I'm overwhelmed. I guess tomorrow will bring me one less thing to do.

The end
The beginning

tomorrow.

P.S. Happy 5 Year Anniversary, Jeneane! Thank you for your tremendous contributions!

Gee, I couldn't think of a better way to spend it. ;-)

Relief...

Laptop on its way from Boulder to the ATL. The relief I feel is palpable. This must be worth a good round of bronchitis, feeling my defenses fall, any number of bugs from today's pediatrician visit at the ready.

Something about going into work tomorrow to hand back my baby--and yes, I have to--then to walk away knowing I didn't have a computer to start this new venture of mine with had me feeling that familiar defeated-before-I-start thing. Something about Dell's non-response put me in "my place." But now I can walk awa feeling pretty darn good. Someone I met through my writing a year ago thinks I just might make a go of it and is willing to put his laptop where his mouth is. That's pretty fucking cool, to say the least. And he's not just any someone. He's for real. But then, most of you know that. Suffice it to say, it's more than any corporation has bet on me. Ever.

So we'll see. In the mean time, the ethernet card he added before shipping it off will hopefully work fine with my DSL, and if all goes accordingly, I'll catch you all on my new puter later.

Best news of all, Jenna's doctor's appointment went very well. No strep, no mono. Bloodwork good. The doc thinks that the winter's two rounds of strep and constant virus lashings took it's toll on her, but that she's coming round. Thankful is what I am.

What an amazing day. I hardly know what to do with it. So I think I better go to bed before anything bad can happen. Three hours to go before tomorrow. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Through all of these last few days, I've managed to continue *not* writing about the war, which is a good thing I think. There are many who do it better and more passionately, from both pro and anti sides, than I can. It's not that I don't care, it's that it's too big. It's like watching a re-run of a re-run of a re-run and you know the ending five times over, and yet you can't change it. It's somehow outside of real time. You have no power to stick your hand in there and modify what's written, what's spoken, who lives, or who dies. Powerlessness.

So, I leave it to the experts and those people who truly believe their invovement matters in the course of these global events. I am glad they do. I wish I did.

If someone asks me how I would stop the conflict or how I would win the war, I would have the same answer: Coliseum War. That's right. Take the professionals--the leaders of the countries involved and the highly-skilled fighters within their ranks, put them in a coliseum, and let them fight it out to the end. Maybe it's like the World Series and they have a battle or two in each home country's venue. But contain it. Keep it out of the streets. Keep it out of the houses. Away from the children. Let leaders lead the charge. Let fighters fight. Webcast it or do pay-per-view. However you like.

That's about the only idea I have.

It's morning now and I forgot to post this.

Thank you all, and especially love to Monica for yet another rough time life has tossed her way. She's still standin'. Hang in, you.

March 31, 2003

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...

It's RageBoy to the rescue! Fighter of corporate injustice and defender of have-nots, RageBoy is sending a loaner laptop to Atlanta today. To say we're grateful would be an understatement. To say thank you, Uncle Rage, is the least we can do. After gushing my unworthiness and enjoying my six to ten minutes of guilt, I accepted the generous offer and will greet Mr. Fed-Ex at the curb tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile our Superhero is battling his own laptop problems--his new Mac gave out on him a couple of days ago. Can't recognize the modem, can't find the airport card, keeps rebooting. I think he's on his way back to the store with that one to see what the heck is up with that.

Tomorrow should be a most interesting day. Not only to have a laptop, but to have one with the RB Mojo workin on it.

Spark to flame...

Thanks again, RB.

nothing

no response. not surprising. Thanks for all the comments--they have helped me, among other things, rescue my Outlook Express email files, which live deep down in some mostly hidden and unweildly path I never would have found on my own. If I had good credit (I don't - long story), I would have grabbed one already. Still thinking what to do.

Mac advocates have been the most vocal bunch. And they are making sense. I never thought I'd leave Mac the first time around. Maybe it's time to return. Now, to get approved for a damn loan or lease. Off today to look around in hopes of some kind of divine intervention. Otherwise, packing this puppy up tonight. After that, will blog when I can from dino the dinosaur--have client work to do on dino as well. Gonna be pushing him to the max. I wonder if he'll spark!

Will blog after I go shopping.

If anyone knows how to hack my credit score for the next couple of hours, you have my blessing. And thanks blogfriends.